Most Popular Instrumentation
We are frequently asked which ensemble is best; however there's not a one size fits all answer to this one! The string quartet is best known as the classic wedding ensemble which includes two violins, a viola, and a cello. This quartet is the quintessential wedding ensemble. If you are wanting classic traditional elegance, the string quartet is the perfect way to go. While these ensembles are two of the most popular options amongst couples on their wedding day, there are many other wonderful options.
Since we are on the subject of the string quartet, let’s start there.
The string quartet, comprised of four instruments, is a beautiful ensemble that holds a lot of volume - usually enough volume for 200+ guests at an outdoor ceremony (if it’s not windy). The string quartet is four string instruments set up into a classic configuration that we recognize from so many wedding movies. The sound is so pretty!
Another advantage to the string quartet is the variety of music arrangements that can be played with a string quartet. For example, if you are wanting some new modern music, you have the best chance of finding it with a string quartet.
*Our string quartet performing at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville.
The string quartet is versatile. Guests swoon when they hear Canon in D on the string quartet for the bridal entrance, and they cheer when the ensemble surprises the crowd with an exciting rendition of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” for the recessional. It can be a classical and modern atmosphere all at the same wedding!
The one drawback: budget. Four musicians is more of an investment, but not to worry! We have equally as harmonious arrangements that can be played by a string trio, a duet, and a soloist for a wedding ceremony, you're being more budget conscious.
*A photo of our string trio at Pinehurst Resort, in Pinehurst, NC
The string trio is basically a string quartet without the viola, which is two violins and a cello. The string trio has volume and illuminates an exquisite sound. An advantage of hiring a string trio is the budget friendly element comparative to that of a quartet.
We find that the trio pulls off the same elegance as the quartet without quite the price tag, so if you want to minimize costs but still give your guests an elegant evening, the string trio is a great option!
While there are slightly fewer modern songs arranged for a trio, we are more than happy to accommodate and can integrate more modern music to the arrangement for your wedding day. Ask about the song list for the trio before booking, and we will do our best to make the wedding music of your dreams become a reality!
But what if three of four instruments is out of my budget, but I still want high quality sound and top 40 music?
If you want to stick to two musicians and still play some killer covers of pop songs, we recommend pairing a violin with an accompanying instrument! While this is a great option, the violin violin duet is also the most classical duet that we offer. The violin is a melody instrument which plays the vocals. If you pair it with a guitar, a piano, or a harp, then you still have all the melody and the accompaniment. That's all you need to pull off pop music successfully (well... as long as you have two really skilled players who have a lot of experience playing modern music on strings! Pop music is generally not easy to pull off on strings, so make sure you hear video samples first and hire professionals. It's not as easy as it looks ;) ).
Here’s an example of a violin and guitar duet playing "Here Comes the Sun" by The Beatles:
This is a video from a wedding we played at The Farm at Brusharbor. It has great sound with the violin pulling off the melody and the guitar filling in elsewhere.
What if you want a little more depth of sound? You can add a violin or cello to make it a trio! Here is an example:
Violin & Cello Duet
The other duet we play frequently is the violin cello duet. It is a beautiful combination that is very classical but can also pull off some pop music. Double checking the song list is always a safe bet to ensure that the instruments offer enough of the style that you enjoy.
*Our violin cello duet at Larkin's on the River in Greenville, SC
We play a lot of solo violin weddings! One helpful tip is to make sure, when you’re browsing YouTube videos for ideas for your solo violinist, that you’re actually hearing only a violin. Many solo violin recordings have other instruments in the background. It’s important to us that you're able to hear exactly how that solo violin is going to sound! The video below is a great example.
A solo violin can be a pure gorgeous sound! Looking to hear a cover of a rock song at your wedding? We do have that option on violin, but it might not quite sound like the original!
Other Soloist Options
Bach Cello Suites and The Swan by Saint-Saens are two very romantic options from the solo cello for a wedding!
The harp solo is arguably the most romantic instrument that exists! The harp is a WOW factor.
Utilizing the trumpet as a stand along instrument allows for a one of a kind performance that will have your wedding guests in awe.
The guitar is so versatile. It offers many songs that sound really great and that mimic the originals, and this instrument can be classical or popular.
Piano or Keyboard Solo
If your venue has a piano, take advantage of it! It’s kind of sad to see a piano sitting there and not being played. If your venue doesn’t have a piano, a keyboard rental is a great option!
WEATHER: Is it going to be very cold or very hot?
If so, keyboard and guitar are your best options! They’re not nearly as susceptible to weather as the other instruments. Please see our weather policy for exact details.
AMPLIFICATION: “Will it be loud enough?”
We can amplify any ensemble! If you’re concerned about the volume, there are tons of amplification options.
“I want my music to be something that my guests will remember forever. What do you recommend?”
What about a small orchestra, as seen here?
*This is a video from a wedding we played at Grandover Resort in Greensboro, NC.
Bagpipes also create a memorable experience for wedding guests and can be played for your recessional or to lead your guests from the cocktail hour into the reception! Here’s a clip:
*This is a video from a bagpipe wedding at Eseeola Lodge in Linville, NC.
Live Wedding Music Reviews
We hear again and again from past clients,
“My guests are still talking about that song you played for me to walk down the aisle.”
Clients are repeatedly surprised at how many compliments they get from their guests about their ceremony music. It’s something that they remember for a long time. Music is played during the most emotional moments of a wedding, and when music is used to create such a powerful memory, it sticks around for a long time - for guests, family, your wedding party - and for you too!
Whatever you decide about your wedding ensemble, we are here to answer your questions and to personalize it so that it fits YOU, your budget, and your vision!
More questions we can answer? Leave them in the comments below! Or email us!
Reach out to us anytime with questions. Even if you’re not in North or South Carolina, we’re still happy to help point you in the right direction! And we travel often to other states.
Contact us at DeansDuets@yahoo.com
Deans’ Duets provides live music for wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception events throughout North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and beyond.
Does the weather affect our ability to play? The answer is: it depends. However, we are more than happy to work with you and your inclement weather plan.
Instruments have differing levels of sensitivity to weather which dictates our policies and procedures. Temperature has no effect on our keyboards with the guitars having little to no sensitivity. While this is the case for our keyboards and guitars, the harp, for example, is the most sensitive instrument to the weather. We have to be extremely careful when playing this instrument in inclement weather conditions. Equally as important to protect are the violin and cello. With high-end instruments on the line to protect from the elements of the weather, having a plan B and C in place is important, just to be safe. We have to be pretty careful with these instruments; however, we do have backup plans in place so that we can continue to give the same high level of experience to every performance.
While we have backup plans if the weather causes us to shift our initial plans, we do have the ability to use backup instruments made of carbon fiber that can be rented. Since these instruments are cheaper instruments and not as high quality, the tone is not nearly as crisp and as strong as it would be with nicer instruments. But they're a great alternative in rough weather, because weather doesn't affect them at all.
If the weather doesn't permit and it's too cold outside, we've been able to also play inside a doorway close to the ceremony in order to keep the instruments warm. Please refer to our weather policy for exact temperature details. Cold weather impacts stringed instruments by causing them to warp, causing wood fibers to contract, crack, split joints, and cause damage to the body of the instrument which will impact the sounds to not be as full or resonant (Music & Arts, 2020).
In the event that we are asked to play a wedding that is outside in the cold while nearing the temperature cut off point, heaters can also be provided by the client to warm up the space a few extra degrees. We do ask that the heaters be lit 30 minutes before the performance begins so that the space is warmed before the use of the instruments. In cold weather, the strings begin to loosen and going out of tune, impacting the quality of the performance.
A light drizzle still permits us to play in rainy weather conditions if we are in a covered area (like a tent or a gazebo); however in a downpour, our instruments are at high risk. We bring trash bags to all outdoor events as a precaution in case that the skies open and it pours. We are then able to place the trash bags over our electronics to ensure that damage does not occur, until we move into a covered area.
When you book with us, here is the wording of the weather policy you will see in our contract:
During outdoor weddings, the temperature must be above 55 degrees for the sake of the instruments. If temperatures are lower than this, a heater may be provided by the client to raise the temperature enough for musicians to still perform. Heater(s) must be sufficient to raise the temperature of the performance area and must be turned on in enough time to provide warmth.
Instruments and electronics must stay out of direct sunlight.
If rain, mist, fog, or other weather conditions make it inadvisable to complete the performance for the sake of the instruments and/or the electronics, the full contracted fee does not change, due to nonperformance as a result of weather.
Here are some examples of weddings that we have played in that the weather caused for some day of adapting.
#1 One wedding that comes to mind when discussing the effects that the weather has on our instruments was an outdoor wedding we played in Blowing Rock, NC as a string quartet. Most of the day had been threatening rain, but the skies were still clear. We proceeded to play for the couple’s ceremony, and as soon as the minister said, “I present to you Mr. and Mrs.,” the skies opened up, and it started pouring. All 4 musicians ran for the gazebo with their instruments (luckily we anticipated it, so no instruments were harmed). Our music stands and iPads got soaked until we could run back and get them from the ceremony spot. Once we got to the gazebo, two of the violinists knew the recessional by ear, so they played it so that there would be music for the exit.
#2 Another wedding where we had inclement weather difficulties was in Sapphire, NC. The bride really wanted to get married outside in a field; however, it was sprinkling rain. We ended up setting up about 200 feet away, and we blasted our music through a speaker so that they could still hear it without ruining the instruments. All of the guests had umbrellas and sat through the rain. We were very thankful that we had a speaker that day that we were able to use to still give the couple the wedding music they had envisioned.
#3 While we don’t put a maximum temperature as a stipulation, we’ve considered it several times. We played a violin/keyboard duet for a Charlotte wedding in July where it was over 100 degrees outside, and guests were not in the shade. Everyone was legitimately dripping with sweat by the end of the ceremony and their clothes looked wet. We ended up loading in the keyboard and then took a break to drink lots of water before we performed. The heat doesn’t really hurt the instruments, but direct sunlight will. We run into these “it’s too hot” situations so rarely, that we ultimately decided to not have a maximum temperature in our contract. But it's nice to consider moving inside if the temps are in the high 90's or above, for the sake of your guests.
Music & Arts. “How Weather Impacts Your Sound.” The Vault at Music & Arts, 20 Mar. 2020, https://thevault.musicarts.com/how-weather-impacts-your-sound/.
April is a professional violinist and the music coordinator for Dean's Duets.